A PROLIFIC peadophile teacher who pleaded guilty to inflicting decades of horrific abuse upon his students will likely die in jail after being sentenced on a string of historic child sex offences in country NSW.
But for his victims who are still alive, and for the families of those who are no longer with us, no amount of time behind bars will ever heal their scars. Trigger Warning: The following story may distress some readers.
Carl William Doherty, now aged 82, destroyed the lives of countless students during his 40-year career as a high school teacher in the small town of Junee, nestled in the state’s Riverina region during the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
It wasn’t until September 2016 that the former Junee High School metal work teacher was first arrested after one of his former students, now aged in his 60s, came forward and revealed a shocking history of abuse spanning back to his childhood more than 50 years ago.
Doherty, then 81, was charged with three counts of buggery and released back into the community on bail on the condition that he surrendered his passport to police.
Fearing there were further victims, detectives setup a dedicated strike force to investigate the former teacher and issued a public appeal for his former students and colleagues to come forward.
What happened next shocked even the most senior detectives.
Investigators were overwhelmed with calls from multiple victims who had spent decades, suffering in silence.
They were flooded with information, prompting detectives to re-arrest Doherty and raid his Junee home in December.
The new intelligence indicated the former teacher had raped and assaulted more than 15 young boys between 1964 and 1992.
Seven of them responded to the public appeal and contacted police.
Sadly, detectives said a number of Doherty’s suspected victims had since taken their own lives as a direct consequence of the trauma the former teacher had inflicted upon them.
“The nature of the investigation has revealed that a number of his alleged victims have either moved away to escape or taken their own lives,” Detective Inspector Darren Cloake said in 2016.
Doherty was charged with three additional counts of indecent assault and buggery and was refused bail while detectives continued to follow up leads.
At the time of his second arrest, investigators claimed Doherty had raped one of his underage pupils every Thursday inside a school classroom for almost a year.
It’s understood the boy was just 11-years-old at the time and is one of the many victims who have never come forward.
It was later revealed the prolific child molester had tried silencing several of his surviving victims after he was first released on bail following his initial arrest in September.
Following a protracted and disturbing investigation, Doherty was eventually charged with 10 counts of assaulting a male and committing an act of indecency, four counts of indecently assaulting a male, seven counts of buggery and one of attempted buggery.
A non-publication order issued to protect Doherty’s identity was lifted in October last year after the 82-year-old pleaded guilty to all 22 offences relating to the seven victims who came forward.
All of the seven victims were students at Junee High School.
Doherty confessed to raping the schoolboys in the back of his car, at his mother’s house and on school grounds between April 1965 and May 1981.
Court documents revealed the former metal work teacher raped one 13-year-old boy three times, including during a weekend trip away, before indecently assaulting him on an overnight trip three years later.
Another 13-year-old student was indecently assaulted inside his sleeping bag in the back of Doherty’s car before he was raped and indecently assaulted again during a trip to the former teacher’s mother’s house later that same year.
A third boy, aged 14, “freaked out” after Doherty first indecently assaulted him in 1965. He was attacked on two further separate occasions, raped in Doherty’s car and again in the bush between 1965 and 1969.
Facts tendered to the court revealed another student was indecently assaulted on a trip to a steam engine rally before Doherty tried raping him at his mother’s house the following year. The boy was aged 12 and 13 at the time.
A fifth boy was molested on two occasions during a shower on school grounds. The boy, who was 13, was indecently assaulted another three times in 1969.
Doherty was sentenced to 18 years and nine months jail on Friday, backdated to the day of his arrest in December 2016.
He will serve at least eight-and-a-half years of that before he’ll be eligible for parole from May 31, 2025. At that time, he will be 90-years-old.
In sentencing, Judge Gordon Lerve said he accepted the fact that the serial child rapist would likely die behind bars.
“I accept that the non-parole period that I will be imposing in this matter may well have the practical result of the offender spending the remainder of his life in custody,” Judge Lerve said.
Judge Gordon Lerve said Doherty “used his significant position of trust as a means of gaining a regular supply of, and access to, teenage boys for his own sexual gratification”.
“Students should feel safe around teachers. To say the offender grossly abused his position of trust is to very significantly understate the matter,” Judge Lerve said.
“Teaching is a noble profession. Those within that professional have the opportunity and indeed responsibility to nurture and encourage their students.”
Judge Lerve said it was in his “firm view” that the former teacher failed to acknowledge the injury, loss and damage caused by his offending.
“Accordingly, I decline to find on balance that the offender is remorseful,” Judge Lerve said.
Overcome with emotion, several of Doherty’s victims gathered outside court after the sentence was handed down on Friday, angry that their abuser wasn’t given longer.
“I’m disappointed,” one victim told reporters. “When you add up the collective years of all the charges, it must come to something like 100.”
“I’ve buried it for 34 years,” said another one of the former teacher’s victims. “You just relive it over and over again. I don’t think there will ever be any closure.”
“He may well die in jail but he has spent the last 50 years doing this he’s lead a full life, we haven’t lead a full life.”
One of two victims who delivered an impact statement in court back in March said Doherty had taken him to places no young boy should ever have to go.
“As a 12-year-old boy in the mid-60s I had my adolescence stolen from me,” he said.
“He took me to places any young boy should never go to – for himself – to gratify his own sexual perversion.”
The victim said Doherty – whose predatory behaviour spanned several decades – was a master of deception and would have been respected by the school, parents and wider community.
And that he was. So much so, Junee High School honoured the former teacher by naming an annual academic award after him.
The ‘Carl Doherty Award for Industrial Technology’ was created to acknowledge students who excelled in the subject.
It’s understood the school canned the award following Doherty’s arrest in 2016.
It was last presented to a Year 10 student in 2015.
Investigators working the case believe Doherty was involved in a wider peadophile ring operating in the small town during his time as a teacher and fear there may be many more victims.
Although only convicted of the 22 offences against the seven victims who came forward, the 82-year-old is thought to have raped and molested dozens, possibly hundred of students over his 40-year career as a teacher.
Up until the month of his arrest, police said Doherty would often ‘hang out’ at the town’s skate park from where he would lure young children back to his house by promising them skateboard wheels.
The revelations have deeply shocked Junee’s 6,000 residents. Just under 4,000 people were living in the small tight-knit community at the time Doherty committed his first known offence.
Of those who lived in the town in 1965, 208 were young boys aged between 10 and 14-years-old, according to Census records.
Shortly after news of the sickening crimes began filtering through the community and Doherty was publicly identified, one of the former teacher’s victims published a post on Facebook under an alias account, detailing his traumatic experience and pleading with other victims to speak out.
The former student of Doherty’s said he was “speaking on behalf of the victims” and said he felt it was “extremely important” for others to see their perspective.
“This post is simply to give the good people of Junee an understanding and insight as what it has been like as a victim for all these years and why it has taken so long for this to be revealed,” the post started.
“Although there have been 7 victims published, unfortunately there are many more who have not come forward – either because they do not want their identity known through embarrassment or to protect their family.
“Unfortunately there are also victims who have taken their own lives either as a direct result of what happened or due to the difficulties of handling relationship or crisis situations.”
The victim went on to explain how Doherty would target vulnerable students by offering them a “sense of adventure and opportunity” that their own families could not provide.
“This animal preyed on young innocent boys which he groomed through school and sports and outdoor activities outside school,” the victim said.
“He gained the trust of the students and parents before he pounced and identified which students of the many whom he groomed were most vulnerable.
“He was very calculated in distancing his victims, both in age and activities so there would be no interaction between them.”
The lengthy Facebook post revealed how the former teacher’s victims were “isolated” from their families and left questioning their own role in the abuse and whether or not what was happening to them was normal.
“As 12 year olds in these times, these victims had no life experience and were oblivious to the evils of the world,” the victim said.
“When these events happened, our worlds were turned upside down.
“We were isolated from our families, were trapped and had no idea whether this was normal or how to respond.
“When we returned to our families, we were either too scared or ashamed to tell our families and it would be committing social suicide if we told our friends.
“To tell the school was not an option for fear of the ramifications.
“The longer we said nothing, the more we started to question our role in what happened and the harder it would be to tell anyone.”
The post also shed a little light on how many of Doherty’s surviving victims had suffered in the decades following their attacks.
“Regardless of the victims family backgrounds which were mainly stable, most of us have suffered relationship problems, alcohol and/or substance abuse, inability to deal with crisis situations and general trust issues with other people.
“Many of us have gone on to have what appear to be normal lives, careers and families.
“For many of us, we have said nothing to anyone all of this time in fear of ruining what we managed to salvage out of life.”
The man said he and other victims would often cry themselves to sleep as teenagers.
“We all thought as teenagers that we were the only one and that we must have done something wrong to make this happen,” he said.
“Knowing what I know now, if I could meet my 12 year old self I would tell him to come forward and save future victims from this and expose this animal to be accountable for the carnage caused to the lives of previous victims.”
The victim thanked the “brave man” who came forward and broke the story, and said he respected the reasons why many other victims have not come forward.
He said the case had left many of them, himself included, feeling angry that they never “locked this animal away long ago”.
“That made us other victims know that we were not the only ones and that it was not our fault.
“I respect the reasons for other victims not coming forward – it was very difficult for me to come forward and this has turned our lives upside down again.
“Those who lived through these times in a small country town will understand how difficult it would be to come forward at the time and to be honest there would not have been the support back then like now if we did.
“The last 12 months have resurfaced some terrible memories and have made us angry that we could have prevented other victims from this happening to them and locked this animal away long ago.
“He has managed to live a full life, travelled the world, accumulated significant wealth all whilst destroying the lives of countless victims and their families.
“Despite how long this animal lives, he will now die a guilty man for the brief time he has remaining. A small price to pay compared to the torment caused to his victims (alive and deceased) and their families.”
The victim said it was time for the heartache to stop and pleaded with other victims to “talk to somebody”.
“Please, can I ask that any of you who read this may have had a child, partner or family member that may have been involved with Carl Doherty as a child in or out of a school setting in the last 50+ years please get them to talk to SOMEBODY,” he said.
“Most of you will know who we actually are but it is important to know that there are many victims/survivors out there who haven’t come forward.
“It could be your son, your brother, uncle or grandfather. Look out for them.
“The heartache must stop now and others involved in similar activities must be brought to justice.
“In today’s times with education these things are far less likely to happen but please talk to your children protect them in everything they do.”
Shockingly, in his post the victim claimed that the abuse he and so many of his peers suffered had been swept under the rug.
“Much to my disgust, this had been reported to the school and police by other victims previously,” he said.
“Some staff had suspicions and did nothing.
“The focus of the Royal Commission meant that accusations could no longer be ignored.”
Another victim, who spoke to 7 News in March, also claimed Doherty’s offending has been ‘covered up’.
“The amazing thing was, is that how many people in Junee all knew it was happening,” the man said.
It’s not the first time the small tight-knit town has been rocked by revelations of a child sex predator working in their schools.
Former primary school teacher and assistant principal of Junee North Public School Ken McCoy was arrested in 2005 after detectives found more than 650 images of children in sex acts on his home computer.
The then 59-year-old pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and was given a suspended 12 month jail sentence.
Although McCoy was removed from face-to-face duties at Junee North Public School after his arrest, he remained employed by the Education Department for up to four months.
Following public pressure, he was eventually sacked in July, a week after he was sentenced.
You can report also information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via nsw.crimestoppers.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.
If you are in immediate danger call 000 now. If you require advice or assistance, the following services offer counselling and support:
Lifeline 24/7 telephone crisis support 13 11 14
1800RESPECT 24/7 phone 1800 737 732
Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence phone 07 5591 1164
Bravehearts phone 1800 272 831